Conference panel to explore lessons learned in biopower

By Anna Austin
Posted Sept. 17, 2010, at 8:25 a.m. CST

Knowledge is gained from experience, so when embarking on a new biomass power project, such knowledge is often sought from seasoned industry experts. While sound advice may seem relatively easy to attain-especially when paid for-in some instances the advice dispenser may not have hands-on experience or first-hand accounts of biomass power projects.

At the Southeast Biomass Conference & Expo in Atlanta Nov. 2-4, attendees will have the opportunity to listen to and engage with individuals who can divulge details of real-life biomass power projects during the panel discussion Making It Work: Lessons Learned in the Trenches.

Abener Engineering Business Development Director Christopher Hutson will explain how to create value and save money through the development of biomass and energy projects, discussing various examples of real biomass, cogeneration, combined heat and power (CHP) and biofuel projects that Abener has completed or is presently working on. "Details of how Abener was able to save cost, improve schedule or improve quality through various task will be discussed," Hutson said. Examples will include site selection, feedstocks, modularization of equipment, scope definition and other related improvements.

"Attendees should find the information useful in the planning and development of projects in biomass, cogeneration, CHP and biofuels," Hutson added. "They will see the usefulness of proper planning techniques and options through various projects, that can help to save time and cost in the development of their projects."

Terry Walmsley, vice president of environmental and public affairs for Fibrowatt LLC, will provide a look at a unique source of biomass power-poultry litter-and will explain how this form of biomass represents not only a dependable fuel source in the Southeast but also offers environmental and sustainability benefits for the fuel supplier.

Fibrowatt built the first poultry-litter fueled power plant in the U.S. in Benson, Minn. The plant was opened in 2007, and Fibrowatt is now working on projects in other states. "With greater scrutiny being placed on sustainability and the environmental implications of biomass power, I'll also provide an overview on how poultry litter and Fibrowatt's technology can address the challenges inherent with traditional biomass power in the U.S.," Walmsley said.

BIOFerm Energy Systems President and CEO Nadeem Afghan will outline the challenges and opportunities in developing anaerobic digestion (AD) projects. "My presentation will discuss all of the pieces of the puzzle that need to come together to successfully develop an AD project," he said. "Many factors must be considered, including feedstock source, site selection, digestate handling and utility interconnection."

Attendees will find Afghan's presentation especially helpful if they are dealing with waste management issues in a municipality, on a university campus or at a composting facility and are looking for a solution to divert their organics away from the landfill, he added.

Also joining the panel will be Johnny Legget, senior project manager for Hunt, Guillot & Associates, who will discuss lessons learned from two biomass power facilities engineered by HGA that are currently in operation-a sugarcane bagasse-fueled power plant for Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers Association in Harlingen, Texas, and a woody biomass-fueled CHP plant for Smurfit-Stone in Hodge, La.

David Benson of Stoel Rives LLP will moderate the panel.

To register for the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show, visit